If you love biking or are interested in starting out biking, of course, the most important thing you need is a quality bike. Mountain bikes come in a variety of different styles and brands, which can make purchasing one that fits your needs difficult at first. You can start with the bike that is sold as being for your gender, but do you have to?
Can a man ride a woman’s mountain bike – and vice-versa? A man can ride a woman’s bike, and, in fact, many men prefer the fit of a woman’s mountain bike. In turn, some women find the fit of a man’s bike to suit their riding needs better.
Many avid riders find that the idea of having gendered bikes is completely ridiculous as anyone can ride any bike. There is no rule about it, of course! While there are some clear anatomical differences between men and women, the fit of the bike is what should be considered and not the gender it is designed for.
The Differences Between Men and Women Bikes
Many bike companies have put research into designing bikes that fit the gender they are meant to serve. Women are on average shorter than men, meaning their bikes have shorter stack heights. Also, on average women have shorter torso lengths, which means that their bikes have shorter reach lengths.
However, this also means that women’s bikes may fit a smaller framed man much better than a men’s bike would and can actually be much more comfortable. Since many of these bicycle features are adjustable, these “gender-specific” differences may not be that beneficial to everyone. It’s best to alter a bike that fits well to suit your needs.
While there are several small differences like those listed, many find that the key reason for gendered bikes is the designs and colors offered, with some appearing “womanly” or “manly” than others. Fortunately, many mountain bike designs are gender-neutral in this way.
The Difference Between Saddles
The only real area that tends to matter when it comes to gendered bikes is the saddle, which refers to the seat. As you probably know, men and women have different anatomical requirements when it comes to seat design and sitting comfortably for extended periods of time. Due to these differences, the structural design of bike seats will differ to accommodate either a man or a woman.
- Men’s seats are usually longer and narrower, while women’s seats are wider and shorter.
- On the other hand, women’s seats tend to be wider, since women usually have pelvic bones that are set wider apart, which sider seats fit more comfortably.
Seat design is important because it allows proper flow of blood to the genitals, which when not handled properly, can cause discomfort while riding.
There are unisex seat options out there that can be used by both men and women comfortably. These are found in many bikes and can comfortably be used by both genders. You should always try out the seats before making any purchases because you may find that you like the opposite gender’s seat more for your riding needs.
Can Women Ride Men’s Bikes?
As mentioned, you can essentially ride whatever gender bike you like. In fact, many women take offense to the idea of women-only bikes, as they are not really necessary. Depending on the manufacturer, these bikes may not be as durable or functional as their male counterparts.
While some women do find women-specific bikes more comfortable and can ride them longer distances more easily, this is not the case for all women. Some taller women highly prefer men’s bikes to female bikes. Some men shy away from riding women’s bikes, but most women have no problem using a men’s bike if it fits them properly.
Riding a Men’s Bike Comfortably
If you have found that you like the height and style of a men’s bike more than a traditional women’s bike, the only real reason not to opt for this is because of the saddle. However, you can easily purchase a female saddle to put on any bike.
Most bike shops can help you make the switch, or you can even do it at home if you prefer and are a little bike savvy.
Choosing a Unisex Bike
The idea of a unisex bike may seem kind of pointless, as this is just a bike. However, this is the way that many companies are turning, and these may be the main bikes of the future. In today’s world, it only makes sense to have gender-neutral bikes and design bikes for all.
Many unisex bikes can be altered to fit a huge selection of sizes and are not simply made for men or women. These bikes are designed to fit a greater range of riders, and you can opt for these if you feel that your gendered bike is not the ideal fit for your needs. Regardless of which gender or style bike you decide to purchase, you want to make sure it fits your body, and you are comfortable.
How to Find the Best Bike for Your Body
Let’s say this again: a cyclist should pay less attention to the gender of the mountain bike and more attention to how it fits his individual body. It’s about your comfort and needs – not about the intentions of the bicycle designer. And you can always customize your bike by adjusting the bike and changing the saddle seat to fit your specific gender.
- Go to your local shop to try them out for yourself.
- Work with a bike instructor who knows how to fit a bike for your specific body shape and size.
- Take someone along who is experienced in mountain biking and can help you choose the ideal bike for your needs.
Working with someone who is knowledgeable in fitting mountain bikes can help you narrow down your search. Beyond that, you should try out the bike by sitting on it and seeing how it fits your body specifically. If you don’t find a perfect bike, you can find one that is a close fit and ask about adjusting to what works for you.
Take a Test Ride!
Before you make any final purchases, you should ask if you can try the bike out and take it for a spin around the parking lot. While this does not equate to a long mountain ride, it can give you an even better idea of how your bike will feel when riding.
As mentioned, if you are finding the seat to be uncomfortable, many can be switched out to the gender of your choosing for a better fit.
Overall, when you are searching for a new bike, look beyond the gender that the bike is designed for and focus more on the way the bike fits your individual body. No two men are made the same, and no two women are made the same, which means you may not need the same bike as another individual out there.
Instead, go to a local shop, try out the bike that you are considering, make alterations as needed, and go home with the bike that fits your body!